With more than 50 permanent artworks and this year the Festival added ten new murals, the highest being 40 meters by Mexican artist Paola Delfin, two gigantic sculptures by Thom Herck and Crystal Wagner, a series of smaller interventions by Helen Bur, three school projects and artist in residence with Wasted Rita who used the city as her playground. The launch was held over the weekend in presence of the artists, media, curator Bjorn van Poucke and the Mayor of Ostend, Bart Tommelein, at Monacoplein where artist Paola Delfin was painting her mural.
The 2019 edition marks also the first time the Festival applied a theme to the program: The Dictatorship of Art. The Crystal Ship also offers the public the opportunity to discover outdoor artworks but it also involves many socio-cultural projects. ‘For us, art is always a social thing. Before we start painting a new work, we always engage with the local community. This year we collaborated with the pupils of the local school Ensorinstituut to make not one, but three art projects. Inspired by the theme The Dictatorship of Art we did one mural project where we taught the teenagers how to paint walls, did a propaganda poster campaign and took it to the streets with a protest march for more art in our lives. Next to that we also launched a limited skateboard deck release with artist Jaune to support the youth in Banjul, Gambia’ says curator and owner Bjørn van Poucke. Check out his interview here.
It was brilliant to see an equal representation in gender with this years’ line-up, which is recurrent with the Festival and which will continue for future editions. This year Ostend saw international artists creating new artworks on its streets including: Case Maclaim (DE) – Crystal Wagner (USA) – David Walker (UK) – Escif (ES) – Helen Bur (UK) – Jaune (BE) – Leon Keer (NL) – Lonac (HR) – Marina Capdevila (ES) – Miss Van (FR) – Mohamed l’Ghacham (ES) – Paola Delfin (MX) – Tom Herck (BE) – Wasted Rita (PT)
Have a look at more images of the artworks from the 2019 edition below, and the story behind each artwork. A massive thank you for The Crystal Ship and the city of Ostend for having me.
French artist Miss Van painted a wonderful mural for the festival. It was the first time in three years that the artist painted outdoor as she has been focusing on her studio works. In her artwork, Miss Van typically depicts sloe-eyed women, covering a varied array of female forms and expressing many different emotions. Common themes in her work include eroticism, sexuality, desire and innocence which are represented by animal masks, pastel colours, and revealing clothing.
Paola Delfin from Mexico painted the tallest building in Ostend. Her characters speak of the nature, beauty, or parts of herself, but most importantly the local stories. Her interest on how people live daily and her ability to find an inspiration in it is what makes her artwork so unique. On this 40 metres high residential building she portrayed three persons. From top to bottom, the woman is a local, followed by Jasmine one of The Crystal Ship crew members, and curator Bjorn.
Stencil artist Jaune from Belgium created his own street in Oostende for The Crystal Ship 2019 located by the Casino. His mural gives a nod to a many people including curator Bjorn van Poucke, and the 1UP crew among others. Check out his interview here.
Portuguese artist Wasted Rita worked on two projects during her stay in Ostend (covered in more details here) . The first project can be seen on the side of a school with different messages pasted onto the building wall. For The Crystal Ship 2019, Wasted Rita installed fake yet hilarious street signs that ooze with truth in quite a sarcastic way. The artworks go perfectly well with The Dictatorship of Art theme and the fact that this festival is all about urban culture, which definitely go beyond muralism.
British artist David Walker painted a silhouette incorporating text, which is a series that he started in Denver, USA. David wrote the text about 10 years ago and ‘when Bjørn the curator sent me the theme of this years festival it came to mind. I have been through some pretty turbulent times in the last few years in life and art and have considered stopping showing work publicly on more than one occasion. The phrase ‘A blank canvas is a white flag’ for me is about simply keeping going, that if you are not creating work then you are surrendering to all the forces and realisms that make you want to stop’ explains David. Read the full interview here.
Artist Lonac from Zagreb painted this huge mural titled ‘Lost ticket’ inspired from a photography he took in Croatia of a woman standing on a platform looking into her hand bag.
Artist Leon Keer painted his signature optical illusion with three Delft blue vases. The Dutch Delft pottery is known for being mostly blue and white and the 3D result painted by the artist looks amazing. Inside each vase the artist reflects on climate change with three different scenes. The first vase shows two children looking at the aftermath of an hearth wake. The second vase shows a white polar bear in a melting Arctic sea. Finally, the third vase depicts a deserted landscape. The new work can be seen at a 5 minutes’ walk from the ferry ride.
Frankfurt based artist Case Maclaim painted the portrait of a local on the side of the Ron’s Pub. The mural can be seen in the city centre.
With his works Spanish artist Escif always surprises the world by portraying social criticism in a wonderfully aesthetic way. For the Festival he painted two murals. He has a unique way of expressing social criticism and at the same time rebelling against his own art style. The first mural to be revealed is titled ‘Save the planet’ where he painted a big fluffy dog. Unlike other canine-based murals Escif’s dog encourages us the ‘Save the Planet’. The dog might look all inoffensive and cute but it is actually a genius way of addressing an important message about global warming, using the popularity of the sweet and fluffy hugely present on social media.The second mural, cleverly titled ‘No Borders’, depicts the famous character from Belgian cartoonist Hergé, Tintin and Snowy, drawn with no borders.
British artist Helen Bur has been very busy working on her little people series (covered here) where she portrayed locals as well friends and artists. The artworks are dotted all around the city of Ostend.
Belgian artist Tom Herck presented a monumental sculpture in front of the Casino by the seaside. Titled ‘wreckage in a bottle’ the new work (covered here) has been built in a milk bottle instead of a wine bottle. Weapons keep on lowering in price until this point that even a grenade can be bought for only 5 euros. Prices of necessary products such as milk on the other hand, are constantly rising. This message in a bottle, built as a 5 euros note tank, wants us to think about that fact.
American artist Crystal Wagner created a unique sculpture that can be seen in the shopping mall, in the city centre. It took 8 days of meticulous preparation to create her artwork. The sculpture was made out of mesh wire as a base and multi-coloured fabric usually used for parachutes which was delicately mixed up into the base and used as the ornament. It took the artist and the Festival crew all night to lift the installation up to the ceiling of the shopping mall in order to be revealed to the locals the next day. Two special lifts were used to put the sculpture up.
Mohamed Ghacham is known for his representation of small scenes of everyday life to which we give very little importance. For the Crystal Ship the artist painted this mural titled Separación de Poderes II.
Barcelona based artist Marina Capdevila created her colourful mural located in the heart of Ostend. What inspires Marina is the beauty that doesn’t follow the usual aesthetic codes such as old people. Her muse is her grandmother. What she wants to communicate with her artworks is the desire to reach old age with full vitality. The resources of exaggeration and irony are key in her creations, as well as a powerful colour chart combined with a soft shading inspired in the Renaissance technique called Sfumato.
The Bar Bar stenciled insects could be seen crawling across the city of Ostende using pressure water technique!
Brazilian artist Mateus Bailon‘s work explores narratives that seek to recall the connection between the human being and nature, as well as revealing his own particular universe inhabited by fantastic creatures, especially his birds. For the Crystal Ship he presented this amazing mural in one of the residential neighbourhoods of the city.